The Breakdown - Penn State

Hawkeye Insider breaks down this weekend's game as Iowa travels to State College to play Penn State.

Iowa CITY, Iowa - The Iowa players and coaches are asked about it. It also gets tossed at Penn State.

Why have the Hawkeyes done so well against PSU?

Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz says it starts with playing well. That helps. It also has to do with people still holding onto Penn State's past.

This isn't the Nittany Lions of yesteryear. They're not he same as when Joe Paterno was in his 60s and early 70s.

Since 2002, Iowa has won more games overall than have the Lions. The Hawkeyes have been the better program during the last decade.

"You have to give the other guy credit," Paterno said this week. "I think our kids, we're in the middle of trying to do something special. I think that Iowa is the next step.

"Even though they may have some thoughts about Iowa "has beaten us that many times, we've got to beat them and show them we're pretty good." I don't know. I've never approached it that way."

Paterno recollects that the Iowa games of recent years have been close. The games could have gone either way.

"I'm aware of the fact that Iowa has given us a couple good lickings," the coach said. "Close ballgames. Beat us on a pass interference call, field goal on the last play of the game (2008), blocked a (punt), they weren't even trying to block it, we fell asleep, blocked it and run it in for a score and beat us (2009)."

I'll give him 2008. The game in '09 was more than a blocked punt return for touchdown by Adrian Clayborn. Penn State did very little offensively after a long bomb for a score on its opening series.

The Hawkeyes cruised at home last year. Again, Penn State's offense was abysmal.

Iowa is putting more players in the NFL right now than are the Lions. The Hawkeye coaches deserve credit for building a program that has surpassed mighty Penn State in wins and losses during the last nine years.

Having said that, Franco Harris isn't coming through the doors of the PSU locker room on Saturday. And if he did, he'd be old.

TELEVISION: The game will be televised to a national audience by ABC or ESPN depending on what part of the country in which you live. You can see where the game is on in your area by viewing the TV coverage map here.

The announcers are Dave Pasch, Chris Spielman and Urban Meyer with Quint Kessenich handling the sideline reports.

RECORDS, RANKINGS: Iowa is 3-1, while the Nittany Lions are 4-1. Penn State is 1-0 in the conference. This represents the league opener for the Hawkeyes.

The Lions are receiving votes in both major polls. Iowa is gathering votes in the coaches' poll.

HISTORY: This is the 24th meeting between the two schools. Iowa leads the all-time series by a 12-11 margin. Iowa has won three straight and eight of the last nine in the series. The Hawkeyes have also won five of the last six meeting in Happy Valley.

HAWKEYE HUDDLE: The Hawkeye Huddle is presented by the National I-Club and the UI Alumni Association. The Huddle will be held from 12:30 – 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time (EST) at the Nittany Lion Inn, 200 West Park Avenue, State College, Pennsylvania.

The Nittany Lion Inn is located within walking distance of Beaver Stadium, where kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. EST.

Admission to the Hawkeye Huddle is free and includes cash refreshments, snacks, door prizes, cheerleaders and Herky. Visit www.jointheiclub.com for additional information.

THE LINE: Caesar's in Vegas installed Penn State as a three-point favorite. The number jumped to 3.5 within the hour and 4 shortly after that. It dipped back to 3.5 on Wednesday and finished up at 4 on Thursday.

It's not often that you see that much movement, albeit slight. It's a tough game to handicap.

It's hard to get a handle on either one of these teams despite it being October. They both are inexperienced and are dealing with injuries. Iowa is coming off of a bye week, which could be good or could be bad.

Will Iowa continue to roll with the no-huddle that worked so well in the last five plus quarters? Or, do the Hawkeyes play conservatively, wanting to give a struggling Penn State offense and freebies by taking risks?

The total at Caesar's is 45.5. Again, what does Iowa want to do on offense? If the Hawkeyes open it up, the game will go over the number.

I don't like the line or the total. Pass.

Here are a some interesting trends:

-Hawkeyes are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games as a road underdog.

-Hawkeyes are 9-3 ATS in their last 12 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.

-Hawkeyes are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games in October.

-Hawkeyes are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games following a S.U. win.

-Hawkeyes are 0-3-1 ATS in their last 4 conference games.

-Hawkeyes are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 road games.

-Nittany Lions are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games as a home favorite.

-Nittany Lions are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games as a favorite.

-Nittany Lions are 18-7-2 ATS in their last 27 games in October.

-Nittany Lions are 0-7 ATS in their last 7 games overall.

KEY MATCH-UPS:

Penn State WR Derek Moye vs. Iowa CB Shaun Prater - As we've mentioned in the past, Iowa favors the Cover-Two. As a result, you don't true one-on-one coverage between corner and receiver.

Be that as it may, Prater will get his chances to slow down the Lions' dynamic wideout early in routes and beyond. Whenever you two of the best players at their respective positions going heads up, it's worth keeping an eye on it.

Penn State RT Chima Okoli vs. Iowa DE Broderick Binns - Iowa is going to need to keep improving in quarterback pursuit and this could be the spot where it happens on Saturday.

Okoli still is a bit raw on offense after beginning his career on the other side of the ball, where he was a tackle. Binns plays some of his best football on the road and could have a speed advantage here.

Mike Farrell replaced an ineffective Okoli last week against Indiana, but the latter remained first on the depth chart this week.

Iowa RG Adam Gettis vs. Penn State DT Jordan Hill - Gettis quietly is enjoying a very solid season. He and Markus Zusevics make up a wall on the right side for Iowa.

Hill is off to a fast start with 25 tackles, including five for a loss. His running mate on the interior defensive line, Devon Still, has 7.5 tackles for loss.

Iowa RB Marcus Coker vs. Penn State MLB Glenn Carson - Carson made headlines this week by calling Iowa a wrestling school. While the Hawkeyes are the pinnacle of the college grappling world, Iowa's offense will be looking to expand Carson's mind.

Coker probably will be leaned on as he leads an inexperienced group of running backs into Happy Valley. He needs to hang onto the football, as the Lions have forced six fumbles this season.

INJURIES:

Penn State - Brandon Beachum (questionable, foot), D'Anton Lynn (doubtful, concussion), Chima Okoli (probable, leg), Stephon Morris (probable, ankle), Curtis Drake (questionable, leg).

Iowa - Nolan MacMillan (questionable, hernia), Brad Rogers (doubtful, heart), B.J. Lowery (out, wrist), Mika'il McCall (leg, out) , Shane Dibona (out for season, achilles), Dakota Getz (out for season, knee).

THE SKINNY:

Penn State -

-The Nittany Lions have held four of their initial five opponents to 10 points or less for the first time since 1996. Penn State is ranked No. 7 in the nation in scoring defense at 12.00 ppg.

-The Nittany Lions also are 24th nationally in rush- ing defense at 95.00 ypg, having limited four opponents to less than 100 yards on the ground.

-Penn State has forced multiple turnovers in four of its initial five games and is tied for second in the Big Ten with 11 turnovers.

-Sophomore placekicker Anthony Fera (Cypress, Texas) was selected Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week after hitting a career-high three field goals and effectively punting and kicking off in Penn State's 16-10 win at Indiana.

-The Nittany Lions' 1986 National Championship football team, one of the elite squads in Penn State's storied gridiron history, will be reunited at the Oct. 8 Big Ten home opener against Iowa in Beaver Stadium.

Iowa -

-Iowa begins Big Ten conference play on the road for the 10th time in 13 seasons under Coach Kirk Ferentz.

-Iowa punter Eric Guthrie ranks 15th nationally in punting (44.8), while Penn State's Anthony Fera is 23rd (43.6).

-Iowa ranks among the top 30 teams in the nation in passing offense, pass efficiency and scoring offense, while Penn State ranks among the top 10 in pass efficiency defense, pass defense, scoring defense and total defense.

-Since the start of the 2002 season, Iowa ranks 17th in total victories among all FBS teams with 80, while Penn State (77) is 20th.

-Iowa has played seven overtime games in its history and two have come at Penn State.

-Iowa has three players from Pennsylvania on its roster, including starting DL Tom Nardo from Lancaster, freshman LB Marcus Collins (Yeadon) and fresh- man DL John Raymon (Richboro).

THE PREDICTION: As I said above in discussing the point spread in this game, it's tough to get a handle on these two teams. Inexperience and inconsistency have highlighted the early season for both programs.

I think Iowa is the better team. The Hawkeye offense is light years ahead of that of Penn State. James Vandenberg is the superior quarterback.

Penn State does boast the better defense and gets the home field advantage. The special teams for both schools are performing pretty well overall.

Weather does not look like it will be a factor. The prediction is for highs in the mid-70s with plenty of sun.

I think this game comes down to the Iowa coaches allowing the strength of their team to win it. Penn State is good against the run. Open it up just enough with Vandenberg and the Hawkeyes will continue their impressive success against the Lions.

IOWA 20 , Penn State 17


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